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Corruption in District Service Commissions, Gov’t Officials Trade Blame :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Corruption in District Service Commissions, Gov’t Officials Trade Blame

The Head of Public Service, Lucy Nakyobe who was the keynote speaker, said there was a lot of corruption in public service that needs to be checked. She said district service commissions recruit unqualified people who present forged academic documents.

Audio 7

District Service Commissions and anti-corruption agencies on Wednesday traded accusations over their failure to ensure corruption-free service delivery. This was during the Anti-Corruption stakeholders conference for service commissions held at Hotel Africana under the theme “Strengthening Partnerships in the War against Corruption”.

Over 50 district service commission chairpersons, heads of anti-corruption agencies such as the State House Anti-corruption Unit,  State House Health Monitoring Unit, State House Investors Protection Unit, Financial Intelligence Authority, the Inspectorate of Government, the Leadership Tribunal, the Crimes Investigations Department of Police among others met to discuss corruption in service commissions. 

Corruption during recruitment stood out during discussions with the commissions being accused of recruiting people with fake academic documents, demanding for bribes from applicants, recruiting relatives, and stalling recruitment processes in favor of their relatives. The Head of Public Service, Lucy Nakyobe who was the keynote speaker, said there was a lot of corruption in public service that needs to be checked. She said district service commissions recruit unqualified people who present forged academic documents. 

“We know people who passed through your systems with Nasser Road certificates. Some of them are holding big officers,” said Nakyobe. She accused the commissions of letting Permanent Secretaries and Executive Directors of agencies take over the role of recruitment, which in itself is a form of corruption. She said the Executive Directors and Permanent Secretaries keep recommending people for recruitment and district commissions, without questioning, the go-ahead to recruit them denying the rest of Ugandans a chance to compete for the jobs.

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According to Article 165 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, one should be of high moral character and proven integrity to qualify as a member of a service commission. However, Nakyobe says the commissions have often failed to exercise their mandate with the needed integrity. 

She says they have even failed to advise the president when he makes appointments. Article 172 of the Constitution mandates the president to make appointments with the advice of the public service. However, Nakyobe says that the commissions treat every recommendation from the president as a done appointment instead of vetting the proposed persons and offering genuine advice to the president.  

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The Inspector of General of Government Beti Kamya said the Inspectorate receives several complaints against people recruited by the public service after presenting fake documents. She warned that if the recruitment process is flawed, the wrong people who are unqualified for the job shall occupy public offices and fail to deliver quality services to the people.

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Meanwhile, the district service commissions rose to their defense giving reasons why the situation has been reported as such. Some accused officials of the anti-corruption agencies of being corrupt themselves, failing to investigate cases to completion, exposing whistleblowers, and lack of political will among others.

The Lira district service commission chairperson, who also doubles as the chairperson of all district service commission chairpersons, Reverand James Awany denied that corruption has infested the commissions, saying, there could be a few rotten apples. He added that oftentimes, propagators of corruption are not commissioners but other public service officials and politicians who use the commissions’ names.  

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Herbert Otim, chairperson of the district service commission for Kapilabyong narrated a recent scenario during the recruitment of Parish Chiefs in the district. He says that the records assistant collected money from applicants telling them that he was doing so on behalf of the chairperson and assured them of jobs. When the victims didn’t get jobs, they reached out to Otim and that’s when it was found that the records assistant has fleeced them. He says an investigation was instituted amidst sabotage from different civil servants.   

 

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Nite Agio, the chairperson Arua City Service Commission said many times the commissions are used as scapegoats for the corruption that occurs in public services, especially during recruitment. Similarly, Ruth Watuwa, the district service commissioner for Namisindwa district noted that they have no authority to verify the certificate presented to them, review the terms of officials, or supervise the recruited officials to ensure quality service delivery. She says department heads should exercise their mandate to appraise public servants.  

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The deputy Inspector General of government Ann Twinomugisha Muhiirwe responded to the queries raised by the commissioners, largely dismissing their concerns as excuses. He asked district commissioners to make a self-audit before they dismissed the evaluations made by other agencies. 

She said while there could be a few cases where the IG has exposed whistleblowers, it's often the people themselves who expose themselves. She says some write a letter and copy in people they are whistle-blowing against while others self-record video clips and circulate them without concealing their identity. 

Muhiirwe further insisted that there was a lot of corruption tendencies in the district service commissions and that the officials should appreciate the challenge and deal with it rather than dismiss it. She said many do not convene meetings saying they lack meeting allowances and others hide behind poor remuneration to abscond from their duties. She urged all commissioners to develop an attitude that seeks to serve their country.  

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According to the Inspectorate of Government, Uganda loses over ten trillion shillings to corruption annually. The state minister for Public Service, Grace Mary also pointed to corruption in districts where jobs are advertised even when the recruitment process is on halt, just to give district service commissions and other public servants a chance to extort money from desperate job-seeking Ugandans. 

She reiterated the need for collective efforts to fight the vice she says cripples service delivery and development of the country. Internationally, the Anti-Corruption Day is marked every 9th of December. Wednesday’s conference was one of the activities organized by the IG ahead of the day of Anti-Corruption Day on Saturday.      

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